Sunday, January 31, 2010

Back to Addiction Again

I want to thank all of you for your comments. I appreciate the warnings, I really do. You all might be surprised to find out that William feels that his AGP is more of an addiction than anything else. This is a recent "discovery" for him; prior to my finding out about his AGP, he thought that was just sometime that he indulged occasionally, he felt that he wasn't hurting anybody. Now he knows differently. I was hurt, and so was our relationship. In the four plus months since we started our journey, we've discussed the idea that AGP might fall somewhere on the TG spectrum. William doesn't believe that he is TG, although he does agree that there must be some biological basis to this and that there is a gender spectrum that he falls into. He definitely agrees that his lack of self-confidence and poor self-esteem are factors in his AGP, but primarily, he believes that he has conditioned himself into an addiction. So, from a practical standpoint, this is how we are choosing to deal with it. (Note: as far as I'm concerned, if William had told me from the beginning, we would likely be dealing with this in a much different way. It's the pattern of addictive behaviors that have been set that are a problem, not the AGP in and of itself.)

We continue to discuss, at length, how exactly we should deal with this. We both have personal experience with food addiction (me) and alcohol addiction (William, his father and his grandfather) , so we think that we understand the difficulty in "controlling" this. Moderate amounts of food and alcohol are fine for most people. So is cross-dressing and masturbation. It's only the unlucky few that are unable to control their "vices." So...since William has never tried to control his AGP, we have chosen to allow him the opportunity to try. And with that, we are choosing to indulge his fantasies...or at least most of them anyway. William says that it's not always easy. He has been self-conditioned to recognize opportunities to indulge his fantasies, solo and in secret, so those are the times when the urges hit him the hardest. So far, he has been able to distract himself with busy work (when you have a house and two young kids, there's always a long "to-do" list.) We actually discussed this morning the need to continue to address this on a very regular basis. With AA and OA or even Weight Watchers, they hold weekly support meetings for their sufferers. The idea is to provide support for their efforts, remind the sufferers of the reasons why they are working so hard to control their urges. We need to do something similar - and since William has chosen to NOT disclose this to anyone, we are going to discuss them together, regularly. We also discussed additional coping strategies. With the other addict groups, they work to identify triggers for their behaviors and coping/distraction methods to implement when those urges hit. We are trying to do the same thing. Our communication has improved greatly since September, we continue to focus on being completely open and honest with one another. We don't think that we are being dishonest with ourselves. We just aren't willing to throw up our hands and claim defeat against this...not just yet anyway.

I mentioned on my last post that everything isn't 100% perfect. I would say that it's 90%, but there are still a few things that we continue to work on. I trust William's love for me. I trust that he wants to do the right thing, but I don't trust his ability to withstand his urges. So far, he says that he hasn't "fallen off the wagon" and I believe him. But I am also watching him. And he knows it. I still get nervous about "opportunities" and we try to discuss how both of us are going to hande those times.

I also have some problems with the aftermath of our "big-fantasy-indulging" sessions. William is so satiated after those events that his sex drive drops...and stays down for about a week or so. We are still trying to figure out how to deal with this in a way that satisfies both of us. My first instinct is to schedule these "big fantasy indulging" sessions for right before my "monthlies", then I wouldn't care if he wasn't interested in sex for a week, but we've noticed that scheduling the sessions ahead of time isn't good for our relationship either. William tends to get focused on the upcoming event and I feel...second best. So for now, we are not scheduling anything. We talked today about him wearing a nightie to bed a little more often. Originally, he didn't want to do this as he thought that it would reduce the intensity of what he feels, but now we're thinking that reducing it might not be such a bad thing?

There are a few things that William has mentioned that he would be interested in doing with me (he has not pushed) that I am uncomfortable with. One is looking at photos of himself, en femme. (At the beginning of this, he gave me his thumb drive with the photos on it and I have it hidden away.) I think that someday I might, but unfortunately for him, it won't be for "fantasy" indulging. I'm curious what he sees when he looks at them. When I ask, he says that he's not sure. He's never thought when looking at them; he's only felt. He says that he is willing to narrate his thoughts and feelings for me when eventually he does look at them - and agrees that we won't include this as part of a love-making session. I'm not sure when this will happen or how I will feel about it, but I'll let you all know when it does.

And just FYI: for the next few weeks, my posts might be spaced out just as these last few have been. I started a temp job a few weeks ago, so my time is a little busier these days! I'm still reading Jack's blog every chance I get and I read every comment that comes across here. So keep checking in and I'll blog again when I get a chance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

All I Need to Know

I have been reading with great interest all the discussion on Jack's blog (and others) about AGP. It seems to me that many of you out there have said "Enough! If the health professionals aren't going to be of any help to us, we'll try to find our own answers." Good for you. I'm pleased to see healthy discourse on the subject. And yet, for all the discussion and efforts to determine the what and why? behind AGP, the most difficult part of AGP is living with it. I will continue reading the blogs and I will still participate in the discussion around trying to define AGP, but really, in some ways, as a spouse of an AGP, I feel that I already know all that I need to know about the subject.

So what do I know? First and foremost, I know that William loves me and that I love him. There was fear that he might not when I first found out about his AGP, but not now. Second, I know that he did not choose to be AGP. oh, he had choices about the behaviors that he chose to indulge, but the basic biology behind this...he didn't choose that, I'm positive about that. Third, I know that William is trying..and even more than that, he is doing. He's not 100% successful 100% of the time, but if I'm honest, who is? I know that he is working hard to make changes within himself - and he's doing it for me...and for us...and for himself. And last, I know that my future with him is as secure as it could possibly be - even if he were not AGP. I don't care where he goes with this, we are going together. So really, what more do I need to know?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's All In The Family

"AGP runs in families." I've read this more than once and I have developed a theory as to why this happens. It goes something like this: it's commonly accepted that things like alcoholism and obesity also run in families. It's also commonly accepted that these people use alcohol and food as "stress-relief"; it's a coping method for them So people are genetically predisposed to choose one "vice" or another as their "coping method of choice." Is AGP similar? Is AGP more a way of coping with the pressure of life rather than a truly TS/TG condition? As the mother of a son in kindergarten, I worry that this runs in families. I worry that my son will also suffer from AGP - and the mental anguish that goes along with this. I do NOT want that for him. I do not care if he is gay/AGP/TS/TG, but I do very much care that he is happy with whoever he is.

My son love pink and purple. When he was a toddler/preschooler, he wanted "princess" underwear and to wear his sister's dress-up clothes. I have always allowed the dress-up clothes (I wonder now what William thought of that) and I never made a big deal about it. I didn't think it was a big deal. Girl clothes are much prettier than boy clothes and little kids don't understand yet the pressure that our society puts on boys/girls to conform to gender standards. I figured he'd learn about it eventually and only wanted to protect him. I didn't allow the princess underwear or dresses out because I didn't want him to get teased - and I explained that to him in exactly those terms. He seemed to understand. No child wants to do anything that would cause him to get "laughed" at for. At the same time, my son is also drawn to very "boy" things. He loves dirt and bugs. He loves to sports, and to shoot his Nerf guns and build things. He is more "rough and tumble" than calm and quiet. He does not get the girls desire to play house or dolls and he really struggles with "pretend" play.

Since discovering William's AGP and as I learn more about it, I have pondered what I can to do for my son - to help him if he has feelings of gender confusion. Yet I don't want to "make a big deal" of it either. I have gone back to him and told him that if he wants princess underwear or to wear dresses at home, it is absolutely fine with me. He told me that he "might want to someday, but not right now." We left it that if he ever changes his mind and wants to wear girl clothes, he will let me know. I am a "huggy" person, so he has always gotten a lot of hugs and kisses. I am fairly demanding of him, but at the same time, I try hard to make sure he knows that I am proud of him. He seems happy - to me and to others. question is, what more can I do? I want him to feel loved and appreciated for who he is, regardless. Is there something more that I should be doing to convey that to him? We are NOT telling the children about William's AGP. Since the cross-dressing and role-reversal is purely sex-based for William, it's not appropriate to share with them. We are very open with our children about the "facts of life", they know how babies are made, but right now, it's just the facts, not any details. AGP be just waaaaay too much information for children and they would have no way of understanding it. I honestly don't know if this is something that we will ever share with them. So how do you foster an open and loving environment regarding sex with your children when you are not open and honest about your own "condition" with them?

I also wonder if there is really anything that I can do. If the AGP's self-image is as distorted as the anorexics, is there anything that I can do now to change what may come? Is there something that you, as AGP's, wish your parents would have done for you?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Happy New Year

Just a quick update since I haven't blogged in awhile: We ended up deciding to take the Christmas break "off" from our problems and just focused on having a relaxing, enjoyable time with each other and with the kids. I feel rejuvenated and am starting the new year with a calmer, more relaxed attitude. Hope abounds. William and I are doing well. We feel strong together. I have to admit, it's still not easy, especially for William. He is trying to overcome years of conditioning, of hiding himself from everyone, even himself. Although we continue to incorporate William's tastes into our marriage, there is a line that I don't want to cross. The line where William's "interests" cease to be part of a loving, sharing relationship between the two of us and transform into something very selfish. Where he crosses over to the "addictive" side of AGP. William continues to struggle to identify that line - and to stay on the right side of it. I still worry that he will "slip", but so far, he has not. We continue to have open and honest communication about it - the most important change that we have made. We seldom become angry or defensive in our conversations anymore, although we still struggle at times to find the right words that our partner will understand. We continue to see our therapist and he is quite helpful, especially with our communication. Somehow he is able to reword what we say in ways that our partner is able to understand. William and I have progressed to the point where we feel comfortable extending our sessions to every two or three weeks. We continue to work on understanding William's needs, both the cause and triggers as well as the expression, but our goal is more "to be able to discuss and resolve our problems between ourselves" rather than to "fix everything." As our therapist says, "it will never be over. Not until we are gone from this earth."